While the vibes of fall have just become obvious to us, there seems to be a wintry chill in the air at the box office. Since four new blockbuster K-movies were released for the summer season, the most lucrative period in a year, their sales have not met elevated expectations of the market. Dumbfounded at mediocre performance at the box office, major distributors seem reluctant to decide when to release a long line of heavily invested movies that have piled up since the pandemic began.
As of Thursday, ‘Confidential Assignment 2: International’ was the only blockbuster with a net production cost of more than 10 billion won, which was confirmed to be released this fall (scheduled on Sept. 7). Only some low-budget films such as ‘Honest Candidate 2’ and ‘Life Is Beautiful’ (scheduled on Sept. 28) wait to be premiered soon.
Only ‘Hansan: Rising Dragon’ reached a break-even point with a total of 6.82 million audiences as of Wednesday among the four costly K-films currently in theaters including ‘Hunt,’ ‘Emergency Declaration’ and ‘Alienoid.’ However, it has not lived up to all the buzz. Even before ‘Hansan: Rising Dragon’ was first released, critics had high expectations of the forthcoming film possibly selling more than 10 million movie tickets. In fact, it received positive reviews for a while right after its release. Added to this, ‘The Admiral: Roaring Currents,’ prior to ‘Hansan: Rising Dragon,’ brought in 17.6 million moviegoers, making it the most-watched film in Korean cinema history. However, it has not turned out to be as successful as expected.
The disappointingly poor report card at the box office this summer may be attributable to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and too expensive movie tickets, which may have restricted moviegoers to only a few films that they decide to watch selectively.
Film distributors seem taken aback by lack of enthusiasm at the box office as they have planned to use the four big players as an attention gatherer and lead audiences to a long-awaited pile of blockbusters this fall. “As audiences may not be happy with a less reasonable ticket price than before, they seem to have a brutally critical view of any movie that they find disappointing,” said a film distributor. “We find it hard to stay confident enough to release any film on the long waiting list unless it is very highly likely to be a mega hit.”
“If any of the four promising films had turned out to be a success, we distributors would have confidently chosen what’s the next this fall,” said another industry insider. “The reality is that even ‘Hansan’ only ended up with a mediocre number, leaving most of the market discouraged.”
Hyo-Ju Son email@example.com